Los Doce, the twelve Franciscan friars who arrived in New Spain in 1524: Martín de Valencia (their superior), Luis de Fuensalida, Francisco de Soto, Andrés de Córdova, García de Cisneros, Martín de Coruña, Juan Suares, Toribio de Benavente (Motolinía), Juan de Palos, Antonio de Ciudad-Rodrigo, Juan de Ribas, and Francisco Jiménez. While they were not the first clergy or even the first Franciscans on the scene, their arrival represented the true beginning of the systematic Christianization program and the establishment of the Mexican church. Motolinía, the best-known member, wrote several important accounts of the indigenous society, and in general the prominence of these "Twelve Apostles" solidified the primacy of the Franciscan order in New Spain. From its privileged position, the order was able to obtain the best and most populous sites for its monasteries and to exert a great deal of influence on early colonial affairs, in part because a member of the order, Juan de Zumárraga, was Mexico's first bishop.
Standard English-language accounts of the activities of the Franciscans (and other orders) in Mexico are John Leddy Phelan, The Millennial Kingdom of the Franciscans in the New World: A Study of the Writings of Gerónimo de Mendieta (1525–1604) (1956); Robert Ricard, The Spiritual Conquest of Mexico (1966); and John Frederick Schwaller, The Church and Clergy in Sixteenth-Century Mexico (1987). For a translation of Motolinía's work, see Toribio Motolinía, History of the Indians of New Spain, translated and edited by Elizabeth Andros Foster (1950). For an early history of the Franciscans in Mexico, consult Gerónimo De Mendieta, Historia eclesiástica indiana (1971). (Motolinía was Mendieta's mentor.)
Díaz Balsera, Viviana. The Pyramid under the Cross: Franciscan Discourses of Evangelization and the Nahua Christian Subject in Sixteenth-Century Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005.
Frost, Elsa Cecilia. La historia de Dios en las indias: Visión franciscana del Nuevo Mundo. México, D.F.: Tusquets Editores, 2002.
González y González, Luis. Jerónimo de Mendieta: Vida, pasión y mensaje de un indigenista apocalíptico. Zamora: Colegio de Michoacán, 1996.
Griffiths, Nicholas and Fernando Cervantes, eds. Spiritual Encounters: Interactions Between Christianity and Native Religions in Colonial America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.
Mendieta, Gerónimo de., and Felix Jay. Historia eclesiástica indiana: A Franciscan's View of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997.